Santa Clara, California-based SafeAI, which supplies autonomous solutions for off-highway, heavy equipment, in partnership with Obayashi Corporation, a leader in the Japanese construction industry, recently hosted nearly 150 visitors to view its retrofitted autonomous Caterpillar 725, operating on a construction site in Japan for the first time ever.
The demos, which took place over a two-week period, brought together delegates from nearly 50 organizations across the construction industry ecosystem, including leading OEMs, general contractors, technology companies, universities and research groups, and Japanese government entities responsible for regulation. In addition to winning buy-in from key stakeholders, the demos mark a critical first step toward securing approval from the government and industry organizations to bring autonomous construction to Japan.
Prior to the public demo, SafeAI and Obayashi spent six weeks extensively testing in a Japanese environment to confirm all the features previously developed in the US-based proof of concept (POC), which was completed in California in November 2021.
Japanese regulations were not originally designed to support the use of autonomous vehicles for off-road construction. Yet, this technology is poised to unlock smarter, safer, more sustainable and productive construction sites. Self-driving assets enable companies to add thousands of hours of productivity annually, completing major projects 20% faster and at 25% lower cost – empowering the industry to overcome chronic deadline, budget and safety issues.
“At SafeAI, we’re committed to making heavy industry safer and more productive for companies around the world. In partnership with Obayashi, and through the joint demonstration of an autonomous construction vehicle in Japan, we are making major strides toward achieving that goal,” said Bibhrajit Halder, the founder and CEO of SafeAI. “From here, we are focused on securing autonomous vehicle buy-in from the government/industry organizations and executing a ramp-up plan for the construction industry that starts in Japan and expands globally from there.”
Following the successful completion of groundbreaking demos, SafeAI will continue to work with the government and industry consortium groups to review findings and evaluate regulatory changes around autonomous construction.
“We firmly believe the future of the construction industry is dependent on off-road autonomy and we’re committed to bringing this technology to Japan, where it will have a massive impact on safety, sustainability and productivity by partnering with SafeAI,” said Obayashi’s Shinya Sugiura. “The Japanese construction market poses a great opportunity for autonomous technology and the recent demos that were conducted in Japan not only confirm the functionality of the system we built, but have showcased the global viability and impact of autonomous construction projects.”
SafeAI’s autonomous solution is powered by industry-specific AI technology and utilizes onboard processing power to enable real-time decision making. From using the latest multimodal sensors (lidar, radar, camera) to detect surroundings, to perception-based localization with GNSS, SafeAI leverages the most advanced technologies on the market to bring more effective, efficient and scalable autonomy to heavy industry. Additionally, the company uses a retrofit model to empower companies to upgrade existing equipment, regardless of manufacturer or vehicle type, instead of limiting companies to purchasing new, manufacturer-built autonomous vehicles, which are costly and more difficult to scale.
Interested in autonomous off-highway developments? Check out the autonomous track at the iVT Expo conference in Chicago, August 31 and September 1, 2022. You can also read our feature on autonomous developments in heavy industry in the November 2021 issue of Autonomous Vehicle International.